Thursday, September 17, 2009

Medical Tourism to India & Mexico at a Fraction of a Cost for Employees of Self - Insured Companies

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Here is a piece of good news for those patients who do not have adequate medical insurance cover in the USA and Europe.

English speaking developing countries such as India, Philippines and Mexico are offering the state of the art medical facilities at their world class hospitals, to patients arriving from USA and Europe at highly reduced prices.

The cost incurred would be a fraction of what one would have to pay for the same facilities and treatment at home.

These modern hospitals have highly qualified medical doctors and surgeons who have obtained their degrees from the best of Medical Schools in USA and Europe especially Britain and Germany .

All these medical treatment packages are obtained at a fraction of the cost had the patients from the West availed the same in their own countries.

We must remember that a large section of the population in USA and Europe amounting to as many as 40% are not adequately covered by a proper medical insurance.

Rather they are dependant upon their companies in which they are employed to take care of them. These employees subscribe to self-insurance pools offered by their companies.

These companies in turn avail the services of insurers for administrative and back office functions only. The rest they manage on their own to cut costs and bypass the mounting prices.

Those companies offering self-insurance to their employees manage their own risks and pays the medical bills to hospitals directly from their self insurance funds on behalf of the employees.

With mounting costs for medical facilities, these companies have found it convenient to send their employees to the sate of the art hospitals such as in India, Mexico, Singapore, Philippines etc.

Since the expenses are far less than those offered at home, companies are sending their patients to these countries to avail world class medical facilities under the care of foreign qualified doctors of international repute.

Steven Lash, CEO of Satori Medical World, has a patent to his credit whereby companies offering self insurance can avail medical tourism at highly reduced price, but with the best of results that at times surpass those offered at US hospitals for the same treatment.

Satori is a Japanese term for sudden flash of enlightenment, something akin to Eureka.

Steven Lash has been busy building a vast network of hospitals round the world that offer the best of medical facilities at hospitals maintaining top rated international standards. Based on price and facilities he has an adequate data from which he could make an offer to companies medical tourism to companies based on their budget and expectations from such medical services to their employees.

Lash has been constantly approaching these self-insured companies, to sell them his idea to cut medical costs for their employees.

“We would become embedded as a health care option for their clients. They would have a choice of going to five network options and we’d be the sixth. We don’t replace the benefit. We become an option.”

Since Lash wants that his system works he is offering his services to screen the patients carefully and categorising them based on several parameters.

"If you have co-morbidity, stay. If your case is just emerging, stay. The benefit will be offered to those who need a defined procedure only." said Lash.

By doing so an optimal solution is obtained where everyone benefits. The patients thus get their medical treatment clubbed together with a foreign tour say to India along with a visit to the Taj Mahal at company expenses which hardly puts a financial strain to their employers.

This is what the Satori Patent is all about.

“We have a business method patent whereby the employee gets to share in the savings through a deposit in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).

“If the savings are $40,000, the employer shares $8-10,000 with the employee and makes a deposit in their HRA. This money can then be used to do co-pays, deductibles and for further premiums.”

HRAs are defined by the Treasury Department, and are different from Health Savings Accounts in that they are “100% employer funded, and non-portable. It rolls over. There’s no limit on what you can put in. And it can pay for first dollar coverage.”

There are incentives here for both sides. The self-insurer pockets big savings, plus they build loyalty because the employee isn’t going to leave with a big HRA balance. The employee, meanwhile, may save enough to pay for the next year’s premiums, or the birth of their next child.

However those with real insurance won’t see this for years because such things need to go through state regulatory processes.

No wonder this is the beginning of an era of Medical Tourism by outsourcing them from distant countries such as India.

As an Indian I think the government and the medical fraternity and hospitals can come together to provide a chain of medical facilities round the country that will offer medical facilities to patients from West at reasonable price, and this funds could be utilised to provide economy or no frills medical facilities to the poor and middle class families in Indian Towns and cities. Its a good way to earn foreign exchange too.

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